The air crackled with a chill that September afternoon, the first trace of damp etched into the atmosphere. 

Emma saw her first, then the rest of the children turned towards the woods at the edge of the park. Like an apparition, the woman stumbled out from amongst the trees and undergrowth resplendent in her cerise woollen coat.  A coat peppered with a menagerie of coloured notes, all pinned on at angles. 

Her mutterings at first were only audible to the sparrows in the trees, to the skittish robin, to the strident magpies marching across the tired grass. The ground was churned up by football boots, dried into uneven lumps of decay. 

‘Where is it, where is it?’ she mumbled gruffly. Erratically the woman spun around, her eyes cast down eagerly on the ground, with a keenness of a child looking out for Father Christmas. Her eyes bristled with expectation, joy then with a sudden turn, angry filthy swear words spewed across the park. 

Appalled Emma careered backwards, right into her friends and the cascade of children toppled like dominos, silent in shock. Righting themselves, the disheveled group at first failed to notice the approach of the woman; concern engraved on her face, bewilderment fluttering in her eyes. 

‘Have you seen it? My child?’

Agog, they barely listened, their attention held fast on the woman’s coat and the pinned notes.

I’m sorry. Appeared many times. I’m lost. Please help. My name is Emma. 

‘Please help me,’ she said. ‘I must find it.’

The children fanned out across the park, not sure what they were searching for, occasionally shouting out a find to Emma the older. Emma their friend remained with her namesake. Ahead of them a note tossed like an autumn leaf across the terrain, swirling in the strengthening breeze.

‘Stop it!’ shouted the woman. ‘There it is!’

Emma dashed over, picked up the dusty note, glancing at the elegant handwriting. 

Mum, you’re lost. Not I. Come home. Address is on the back. Love, Mark xx

Emma the child handed over the piece of paper. 

‘Mark! I found Mark!’ The woman’s primeval screech of elation echoed into the billowing dusk; a joy swallowed by her very next words, tiny as pinpricks, thin as slivers of silk.

‘Who am I?’

© Annika Perry, May 2018

The above piece of writing was inspired by a prompt from my writing group for our work to be ‘set in a park, in any period, in any location with any number of people involved, you or your character/s have lost or found something.’ Owing to burgeoning numbers of keen writers in the group our homework is now restricted in length.

88 thoughts on “LOST // FOUND

  1. Beautifully captivating story, Annika! The reader is caught up with your two Emma’s and their emotions from the start. I could feel the Autumn chill!

    1. Sarah, thank you so much for reading and your wonderful comment! I’m so happy you were wrapped up in the story of the two Emmas and I love that the Autumn chill described reached you … praise indeed! hugs ❤️

  2. I love the suspense you create in this, the astonished then helpful responses of the bystanders, and the escalating terror of a woman who has lost all bearings but down deep knows there is an answer in a lost slip of paper.

    1. Wow! Janice, this is a wonderful summary of the story! 😀 I’m so happy you enjoyed the piece so much and saw all this within it. Thank you so much for reading and your detailed thoughtful comment!

    1. Vashti, thank you so much!! 😀 I really appreciate your comment and thoughts. Yes, I meant to indicate Alzheimer’s and just hoped I conveyed it realistically whilst still a fictional piece. Wishing you a lovely weekend. 🌺

  3. This is a thought provoking post – reminiscent of Alzheimer’s Disease! So sad. Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing. I should be getting to your book over the next month or so. There are so many other books I promised to read earlier. Sorry. I will do my best. I look forward to reading it. hugs xx

    1. Janice, I was trying to convey Alzheimer’s without stating the illness and I’m glad you found it thought-provoking…that’s lovely to know! This was a bit different from my other style of writing so it’s great with feedback … thank you so much! 😀 Please don’t feel stressed about my book and I totally understand! Read it in peace and calm when you have a chance and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about it later. Happy weekend & hugs 🌺🌻

    1. Wow! Atreyee, thank you so much for your wonderful comment! 😀 Your summary of my short stories raising questions ‘inside the reader, yet are complete unto themselves’ – is exactly what I look for in books and stories and I’m so happy you feel I have achieved this in my stories, including this one!

  4. Mike

    Spooky story Annika. It seemed to me to stride the line between reality and the surreal crossing from one to the other at various parts of the story. On the face of it quite simple but delve a little bit deeper and there is so much more going on. It also provoked so many question – where did the older Emma come from? Was the younger Emma seeing her future self? Whats the back story to both these characters (I feel a full blown short story coming on).

    Well done for a thought provoking story which has really got me thinking!


    1. Mike, thank you so much for your wonderfully detailed reading of my story and I am so glad it provoked such an in-depth reaction. Your thoughts straggle points raised both by the people just before and after your comment. A full story? Really? Since you’re the second person to mention this, my mind is full of possibilities – who knows! I love that it raises so many questions for you – just as it should do … ensuring you delve further inside your own mind, emotions and experiences! Happy Thinking!! 😀

    1. Robbie, I’m so glad for your first reaction – I wanted a spooky, mysterious feel to carry over the story! I hadn’t thought about carrying this onto a short story length but as soon as I read your comment, my mind starting brimming with ideas…thank you so much for your vote of confidence. Yes, my intention was to indirectly suggest she was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

    1. Julie, one again the first sentence of the story started off the rest of the story and only as I was writing did I realise I wanted the ambiguity of the same name for the woman and the girl! A bittersweet ending … of finding then realising how lost she really is. Happy Sunday, my friend! 😀🌺

    1. Jennifer, it’s always a pleasure and joy to share a bit of my fiction writing … thank you for reading and wonderful to know you enjoyed it so! 😀 Wishing you a peaceful Sunday! ❤️

  5. Like the others said, this is such a powerful story and the play on point on view in search of something is very creative. Very seamless too. Great piece of fiction 🙂

    1. Mabel, warm thanks for reading and your lovely comment … even if we have not lost our identity I think many can relate to looking for something but not sure what it is! I’m glad you felt it flows seamlessly … particularly important in these shorter fiction pieces, Happy Sunday! 😀

  6. This is such a poignant, powerful, and clever story, Annika. Clever because of the prompt you had, to step out of ordinary and think of the topic at hand. My brother-in-law has Alzheimer’s and it’s such a sad, lingering disease. But your story is wonderful and well done, once again. Hugs! ❤🌼🌷

    1. Lauren, I was a bit apprehensive of putting this out on the blog as I am aware that many have relatives with Alzheimer’s and I did not want to come across as patronising or for my words to ring false. I have never personally met anyone with the illness but read a lot around it. Lauren, I am so very sorry for your brother-in law – a terrible disease that eats at one’s core and so hard for the person ill as well as the family. Thank you for sharing and for you lovely thoughtful comment about my story. Warm hugs 🤗 ❤️

    1. Thank you, Debby!! 😀 And I look forward to your thoughts about my book … I’ve read a couple of yours but still haven’t got round to your latest! Soon! Happy weekend, my friend! xx

    1. Wow! Thank you so much, Natalie… I’m smiling at your kind comment! 😀😀 I always want to reach within the reader, touch their soul and heart and it means a lot to me you find this with the above short fiction. Happy Sunday! 🤗🌻

    1. There are moments though when I think someone can connect with themselves now and then … and that must be even more terrifying. I can’t see you losing your sparkling wit and wisdom, Jo, no fear! Yep, a glorious day and I actually retreated indoors for a brief while to cool down! 😀

    1. Haha…not as soon as your book, Jacqui!! Exciting times for you! 😀

      So glad you liked the story – great when it reaches the heart on all levels! Happy Weekend! 😀

  7. I love this, Annika! The children’s apprehension and bewilderment come across so well and you have provided such a satisfactory ending! For so few words you have given us a nicely rounded story.
    I finished ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ a while ago but haven’t got round to telling you (until now) how much I enjoyed the collection of stories. My favourite has to be the last one, ‘Loss of a Patriarch’.

    1. Thank you so much, Clare – I want the stories to be rounded and have a finished feel to them. I am getting used to this shorter length for these ‘homework’ pieces. It’s good for the creative skills, and a lovely change from other work!

      Ahh…thank you so much for letting me know you finished my book – that’s wonderful. ‘Loss of a Patriarch’ was written straight from my heart and then partially re-written and edited to this final piece. It means a lot to me that you like it so much. Happy Weekend! 😀

    1. Brigid, thank you so very much!! 😀 I had the image of the lady appearing from amidst the trees and the rest then wrote itself, I felt! I really appreciate you reading and your lovely comment. Wishing you a lovely weekend! 🌸🌼

  8. Behind the Story

    Chilling, especially seen through the eyes of a child. I love the use of notes, mysterious notes at first and then the answer to the puzzle of the lost woman.

    1. Nicki, it’s all a matter of building up the mystery and sense of atmosphere quickly and glad you liked both! Thank you so much for reading and comment! 😀 Happy Weekend! 🌸

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Iris! 😀🌸 The setting was all down to the prompt – although I have another piece of work which is much darker and is also set in a park.

    1. Catching a reader right at the beginning of these shorter pieces is key so glad that this one did just that! 😀 I didn’t mind if the reader half-guessed her lost self earlier on … the children’s confusion however remained until her final words, I feel. Many thanks for reading and commenting, Curt.

  9. Wow. Annika. Powerful writing. A scene in a world and mind off-kilter. I love the details, a swirling autumn, a swirling search, swirling note, swirling mind. I love how the children, despite their initial shock, help the woman – such beauty and kindness in the midst of loss. The story has a magical/fantasy element to it and yet could easily be based in reality. Stunning. ❤

    1. Diana, thank you so much for your terrific comment! You picked out all the elements I wanted to incorporate – I think my writing is being affected by my more unusual reading lately, including your book & the fairytale quality of ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ etc…at the same time I am solidly grounded in reality – it was fun to merge the two. The light at Autumn dusk is full of mystery and the unknown and I’ve long had this image in mind – just needed the opportunity to use it! Swirling does seem to dominate the piece – including swirling emotions all around, Emma’s erratic behaviour, the children’s confusion turning to kindness. I’m over the moon you were so taken with this piece!

  10. Annika, this is another of your masterpieces…that negates the belief that masterpiece can be only one. What do you say to one after another brilliant examples otherwise? I loved the emotions you have packed into this poignant tale of Emma…succinct yet powerful! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Balroop, what you write is just wonderful and has me beaming away!! 😀 Thank you so much … you know I’m in danger of becoming big-headed here!!😀 I’m so happy you found so much within this short fiction work. hugs xxx

  11. At first seems fairtale-ish and then it becomes painfully obvious the reality of Emma’s condition.
    Sad, but poignant and a classy way to bring this subject to the attention of everyday ‘readers’.

    1. Laura, warmest thanks for your in-depth and thoughtful comment. I’ve been reading a variety of books, some with this fairy-tale quality and I think that element snuck its way into my writing! 😀Then I wanted to bring in the harsh sad reality. It is terribly sad and soul-destroying to see someone suffer from such an illness…literally losing themselves.

  12. What a wonderful captivating read Annika.. I was held by your wonderful descriptive imagination that you described so well, i saw the woman and coat, and the sticker that flew like a leaf while the group of onlookers gazed opened mouthed in disbelief..
    An wonderful story. And a poignant one for those who are lost and need help finding themselves.
    ❤ Hugs and much love

    1. Bless you for your wise and thoughtful comment, Sue! As always I enjoy painting a larger picture with the smaller details and I’m thrilled you found it captivating and poignant – not always easy to do both in a short piece. On one level I find that this feeling of losing ourselves is something we all experience at times, we just want to howl in despair! Wishing a wonderful weekend – and for once a Bank Holiday promises sun and warmth!! hugs & love xxx ❤️

    1. Barbara, thank you so much and I’m glad it kept you in the dark until the end! 😀 Hmm…a new collection eh?! It’s touching that you ask and it means a lot! Consciously I’m not working on one but who knows what the long-term brings!

    1. Bernadette, yes! I was hoping to convey someone with that illness …I’ve read a lot of books about it but never known anyone with it although I have known people with dementia. The maelstrom of emotions must be frightening…

      1. Andrew was in a care facility with patients who had dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. I spent a lot of time interacting with them. It is heartbreaking because it is so difficult to comfort them.

  13. Annika, what a wonderful tale, I am totally captivated. By the two Emma’s, by the mysterious setting, by the children’s spontaneous reaction.
    In your poetic prose you lead us from the apparition of the woman in cerise that stumbles out from the trees to the revelation that turns out so sad.
    The love from the children touch me and so does the note from the son.
    The older woman you just want to hug and tell all is alright, she is not alone or lost.


    1. Miriam, I feel that the grown-up Emma needs to run into your gentle soul and arms!

      Your tender and emotional response to my work is wonderfully moving to read and means a lot to me. I’m so happy you found the piece captivating and enjoyed the interaction of the two Emmas. There is a certain light at Autumn dusk which is full of mystery and I wanted to capture this to start with. Also, it’s lovely that you find my writing ‘poetic prose’ – thank you so much for this and your lovely thoughtful comment! hugs xxx

  14. PeterR

    Brilliant work, Annika. So few word, setting the mind working on so many levels. The two people called Emma is inspired, and adds yet another level. One for “The Storyteller Speaks, Second Edition”?

    1. Peter, you’re not the only one asking this, I see!! 😀 I’m not consciously working on another collection but who knows! Great to know this one grabbed your attention … thank you for saying it was inspired to have two people called Emma – I always enjoy stories/books with this type of concept.

  15. What a wonderful story, Annika, told from the perspective of the children, especially Emma who may be seeing her future. I can see the older Emma clearly, lost and confused, identified by the notes pinned to her coat, so disoriented that she can no longer respond to the instructions. There are the children, wanting to help, astonished by this lost woman.

    1. Oh, Shari, it means so much to me that I’ve ‘painted’ this image for you … that you can picture it all clearly! Reading your lovely comment, I’m nodding away, thinking ‘just so, just so’. I enjoy writing (and studying) the interactions between these two generations – often as if there is no age gap, intuitive understanding between them, open and honest.

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